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THYROID 101

Updated: May 6

The thyroid gland maybe small weighing 20-25g but it is a mighty butterfly shaped gland with multiple functions and it’s the largest endocrine gland.


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So, what does the thyroid gland do?

 

I name each in my book I name each hormone. I call the thyroid, the metabolic hormone; it's kind of like a car engine. When a car engine works properly it goes at the right speed and it runs smoothly. But, problems with the engine and things can go wrong. Just like the thyroid.


Womans neck photography

The thyroid has so many functions – from top to toe.

 

1.        Brain health – memory, mood

2.        Temperature control

3.        Metabolism:

4.        Fertility

5.        Growth

6.        Bowel movement

7.        Skin and hair health

8.        Calcium control

 

What does the thyroid gland produce?

Thyroid hormones; the main ones we think of and look at in terms of clinical relevance are T4 and T3. These are both hormones made from a tyrosine (amino acid) ring and iodine molecules. 90% released from the thyroid is T4, 10% is T3. T3 is the ACTIVE version. Our bodies can also make mirror / reverse T3 which is inactive in times of stress.  This can lock into thyroid receptors and block its function.

 

thyroid illustration

T4 gets converted to T3 in the gut, liver and peripheral tissues.

 

To do this, we need

1.        MagnesIum

2.        Zinc

3.        Selenium

4.        Iodine

5.        B vitamins

6.        Vitamin D

 




Things that can prevent conversion from T4 to T3 is

1.        Stress

2.        Toxins: heavy metals, plastics, halogen, fluoride, chloride

 

 Testing for T3/reverse 3 can be done in some areas in specialist areas of the NHS dependent on the area. Private clinics if they have access can request these too.

 

Issues with the thyroid

 

1.        Under active

a.        Idiopathic (no known cause)

b.        Hashimoto’s (autoimmune)

c.        Iodine deficiency (mineral depletion in soil – most common worldwide

2.        Overactive

a.        Graves disease (autoimmune)

b.        Thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid)

 

Symptoms and issues from a slow working thyroid

 

1.        Metabolism: Low energy, tired, WEIGHT GAIN, and the dreaded belly fat

2.        Constipation, bloating

3.        Sex organs: heavy periods, infertility,

4.        Dry skin, hair thinning

5.        Low mood, low memory and motivation

6.        High cholesterol

 

Symptoms from a fast working thyroid?

 

1.        Metabolism: hyperactive, weight loss

2.        Diarrhoea

3.        Sex organs: scanty light periods, infertility,

4.        Oily skin,  hair thinning

5.        Anxiety

6.        Palpitations

 

Why are there so many symptoms from thyroid issues?

 

Quite simply, there are thyroid receptors EVERYWHERE. So issues with the function of thyroid hormone can cause SO many symptoms.

 

Note: the symptoms can be vague and varied and affect multiple systems: we need to join the dots. People may feel low and end up under a psychiatrists care, have palpitations and end up under a cardiologist – but yet no one has ever thought to check the thyroid!


Why do we seem to suffer with thyroid disease in midlife?

 

This is a great question and there are SO many potential reasons. Thyroid disease impacts women 10 times more than men – women are genetically more at risk. And those with diabetes, coeliac etc are more at risk of thyroid issues

 

Also in the perimenopause/menopause when hormones fluctuate, it causes immune shifts. Also, with age, we lose bone mass with age. It is postulated, bones store a lot of our toxins and when we lose this bone mass, the toxins released can impact our thyroid which is delicate and susceptible to insults.

 

Also, over the years, we are exposed to TOXINS such as fluoride and chloride which is thought to contribute to thyroid disease. And the stress linked with the midlife; elderly parents, juggling kids, work etc. It’s the perfect STORM for thyroid issues.


Pink syringe injecting tubes in a lab

Testing

 

On the NHS at your primary care provider, TSH and T4 are likely to be available. I think a point I want to raise now is that what is ‘normal’ based on a blood test and what is optimal are 2 separate different entities. And lab values and different areas have different thresholds in terms of what are considered ‘normal’.

 

Many women complain they feel tired, suffer with weight gain or inability to loose weight and their TSH and T4 is normal. But we haven’t checked their T3? I am passionate about helping the person in front of me suffering and not being felt that they are being gas lit by their doctor and their symptoms are in ‘their head’.

 

What can I do to help thyroid function?

Everyone is different

There is not a 1 size fits all

We are uniquely genetically different and all have different lifestyles

 

So we all need to implement tailored plans to support our health.

Broadly, I support thyroid health my looking at the 6 pillars of lifestyle that my book Happy hormones Happy you, is based on and personalised management of.

 

Nutrition

Dr Milli Raizada chopping food
  • Nutrient intake – protein, micronutrients

  • Avoidance in some cases: gluten, dairy

  • Nutrient timing – fasting can impact thyroid disease as increases cortisol


Exercise

women doing sit ups in red trousers
  • Activities to support the parasympathetic nervous system


Sleep

woman waking up in a bed
  • Ensuring adequate sleep


Stress = Adrenal health

woman holding her hands over her face

Toxins

Toxin bacerica illustration
  • Simple measures e.g avoiding tap water and using filtered etc


Gut & Liver Health

Woman holding a green smoothie
  • Gut health  - 90% of immunity is in the gut. Thyroid is at risk in those with autoimmunity. Has your doctor ever talked to you about your gut when talking to you about your thyroid health? They go hand in hand. The gut thyroid axis get largely ignored but it is pivotal in management

  • Liver health – we need the liver to convert T4 to T3 and to metabolise thyroid hormones. We need to support it.

 

Medications:

 

For hypothyroidism, thyroxine (T4), T3 or desiccated thyroid extract

Ensure to avoid these with iron and calcium as this can impact absorption. Options for Hyperthyroidism include B blockers, Carbimazole, Radiotherapy, Surgery


 

Work with Dr Milli Health

Dr Milli Raizada

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If you would like to work with me on your thyroid health and supporting your lifestyle contact me today to see how my bespoke packages can help you become the best version of yourself.


 

 

 

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